The Silver Lining To This Mets Debacle?
Every once in a while, I come across a comment on MMO that reads more like a stand-alone post and deserves special consideration. T Agee responded to my post this morning and gave me much to think about, but more importantly he reminds me of a few things that I sometimes forget while I stew in my anger over this whole Wilpon-induced mess the Mets find themselves in.
Anyway, check it out:
Joe, I don’t think anyone feels Alderson is the only GM who intends to build up the minors. Shortsighted people are in an uproar because more of the expenses are being shifted there rather than to the Major League roster. This is a marked departure from the way the Mets have done business over the last 25 years and people are used to having a Jason Bay, Vince Coleman, Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar or Scott Schowenweiss to drool over all winter long.
That wasn’t always the case. When Joan Payson was here she spent a lot of money acquiring the best amateur talent possible and hired the right people to scout and develop that talent. Almost all of the 1969 Mets were acquired BEFORE their even was a draft so those players were available to anyone who wanted to sign them. Trades and forming platoons filled in where we didn’t have solutions.
Frank Cashen didn’t sign one single free agent. He traded off the Major league roster for additional pieces to add to his build up of the minors and then when he knew what he had traded some of his prospects to round out and fill in on the Major league roster. He did both things. First he traded for prospects, then he traded prospects to upgrade. For 25 years now we’ve only concerned our selves with trades or free agent signings that address talent shortfalls in the system rather than addressing the REASON we have all those holes to begin with.
Does anyone really believe that we would have signed Luis Castillo for four years if we had a Tejada/Havens/Valdespin performing in AA or AAA? Would we have signed an Oliver Perez if we had Mejia/Familia/Harvey/Wheeler in AA or AAA? Of course not. Those guys were signed or resigned because we DIDN’T have anyone close by. The key now is to follow up those guys with MORE guys so that our best years aren’t missing the playoffs by one game and then falling back on the same old tired mantra of “who could have known that so and so would fall off a cliff the minute we signed him?” or “who else were we going to get to play __________?”
The pendulum has shifted away from over spending for guys who hamstring your payroll and clog up your roster and play no better than a platoon made up of two non tenders and frequently don’t even do that well. If the pendulum had been 50/50 the last quarter of a century I can guarantee you that we would have made the playoffs more than 4 times.
As for the Wilpon’s, their either in dire financial straits and holding onto the team anyway possible or they are cutting back on payroll inorder to save the money they have to give back or they could be devesting the team of financial commitments in order to sell it.
There is a 4th possibility though and I think this one is the most likely. They may very well be purposely devaluing the franchise and taking on additional debt in order to get their equity in the team to zero that way the franchise won’t be of any use to Picard and they can’t be forced to sell it to pay off any liabilities in the lawsuits filed against them after the clawback is settled.
Regardless it makes no sense to blame the spokesman. Alderson was hired to shed payroll and put out the best team possible while doing so. Players know the deal. Anyone with any better options aren’t coming here. They know that for three or four years we’ll have to go with what we have or what we can get on the cheap so that just shrinks a really small pool of good available players every off season to next to nill.
For over two decades we have settled for whoever was available every off season and then spent whatever was necessary to acquire them as our basic method of procurring talent and we’ve gone to playoffs 4 times in 25 years with 3 near misses using this plan and that’s with the highest payroll in the NL so 7 times in 25 years we were in it and 18 times we weren’t and one of those times we were was the tail end of of a purposeful buildup of the minors so in reality having the pendulum stuck on this year every year has resulted in as many playoff appearances in the last quarter of a century as the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The question should really be doesn’t anyone aspire to be better than that? If your answer is yes then there’s really only one way to go about it and that’s to build your 25 in a way that doesn’t cost you one single player from future years teams and instead ADDS players to future years teams when possible. If THAT had been done around here not only would would our results have been much better, but our future would be a lot brighter too and everything else would have fallen into place.
You cannot make up for the work not done (or done poorly) in the previous decade by going out and signing whoever happens to be available every year.
That’s already been proven by us 18 times in the last 25 years.
I think we can all agree that we are now at a point where drastic philosophical changes are necessary. What those changes are and how they will ultimately change the future of this franchise won’t be known for quite some time. But for real and lasting change to happen, we must rely on an ownership group who is up for the challenge, dedicated to our goals, and committed to making the changes necessary to achieve those goals.
All championships begin at the farm – so obviously that’s a good place to start and to expend the most focus and resources.
My concern is that a championship caliber team must also be supplemented by smart trades and good signings via free agency, and those moves usually require a sizable financial investment.
My fear is that no matter how good Familia, Harvey and Wheeler are in 2014, what good will it do with an ownership that is unable to afford what it would cost to surround them with the players we would need to make the team as relevant as we are being led to believe.
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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